Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868
Source: MECW, Volume 43, p. 28;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx Stuttgart, 1913.
I congratulate anyhow on the half saeculum [century], from which incidentally, I am also only a short span away. Indeed, what juvenile enthusiasts we were 25 years ago when we boasted that by this time we would long have been beheaded.
Enclosed returning Kugelmann, Büchner, Schily, Reclus, Schweitzer and the Elberfelder Zeitung, and additionally something on your book which Siebel’s wife sent me; he appears to be no longer capable of writing, is in Barmen and going to Godesberg.
The profit story is very nice, but I shall have to think it over further in order to grasp the portée in all its aspects.
Ad vocem Schweitzer. The rascal is utilising this business simply as an inducement to make us take the bait again. Of course, it does not matter that you give him information this time, but principiis obsta [beware the first step]. Don’t let the fellow catch your little finger lest he make an attempt on your whole hand. On the subject itself, I have no doubt at all that the German iron industry could dispense with the protective tariff, a majore, therefore, could also stand the reduction of the tariff on pig iron from 7½ groschen to 5 groschen per hundredweight (from 15s. to 10s. per ton), and the other reductions likewise. The export of iron is increasing every year, and not only to Belgium. This would bring ruin to a few ironworks established during the wave of speculation in the 50s, situated a long way from the coal and otherwise based on insufficient, poor pits. But these are for the most part already kaputt, and the vicinity of a railway would be more use to them than any protective tariff if they should ever become viable again. (There is one like this in Engelskirchen, 500 paces from my brothers’ factory — the coal has to be brought from Siegburg, 2½ German miles, by wagon — no wonder it lies idle. This sort of works cries out for protective tariff, and is cited as proof that it is necessary.)
The Elberfeld-Barmen Chamber of Commerce is the nastiest protective tariff institution there is, and notorious for it. Even though the main industry of the district is aimed at export. However, there are always a lot of trades in decline there, hence the lamentations.
For the rest, your plan about the enquête is rather good, and I like it very much. As far as railways go, the freight charges in Germany are lower than elsewhere, and, since goods traffic is the main thing in Germany, this could not be otherwise. They could be pushed still lower, and the governments have the power to do it, but what is most necessary is greater centralisation and equalisation in administration and freight charges, and constitutionally this is a matter for the Reichstag. By and large, the iron-chaps have no cause to yell about high freights.
Liebknecht has sent me the trades regulations, on which I have promised him some critical comments. Progress compared to the regression under Frederick William IV, but what bureaucratic confusion. I am sending you the stuff for the fun of it.
Yesterday the inevitable Leibel Choras arrived and prevented me writing. I asked him about the persecution of Jews in Moldavia; he wailed a bit, but it does not appear to be all that bad: we have to bear it, we Jews do not have the power; he would like to be Russian or Austrian, but it does not occur to him to leave. The Hohenzollern is a stupid boy, and the government in the hands of the ‘clerks’ (boyars in reduced circumstances playing at bureaucracy) and they squeeze the Jews so.
Many greetings to your wife, the girls and Monsieur and Madame Lafargue.